How to Form an Effective Backup Strategy
If you’re good enough to get paid for your photography or filmography work, you’re smart enough to protect it. You’ve probably even heard the advice (from us if not a dozen others) to always keep your data in at least three places. However, in the interests of brevity and short attention spans, the why and how of this guidance often gets jettisoned.
You want to back up your data because if it is lost in any way, you’ll never make another cent from it. All your hard work will be put to waste along with the money and time you spent capturing those stunning images and footage.
You can’t repurpose what you no longer have. Your data is essential at the time you’re working on it, but it will also be essential in the future as you use the content on other projects. But, if you lose it? Be prepared to spend more time and money reshooting on costumes, set design and construction, travel costs, and more. You can’t use what’s already gone.
What happens when your client comes asking for their original files and finds that you no longer have them? It’s simply not worth risking your professional reputation over a poor backup strategy.
How To Form An Effective Backup Strategy
Above all else, your backup strategy needs to be easy and automated. A significant number of creative professionals opt for software tools [RMP1] to assist with making data copying across storage devices simple and, well, largely brainless. By automating your backup processes, you’re much less likely to be stung by forgetfulness or distraction. Let the software be your memory and data manager.
Next, you need to identify which storage solutions to have in your backup toolkit. In part, this will depend on which stage of the workflow we’re discussing. Creative workflow typically falls into four buckets: 1) capture, 2) ingestion, 3) editing, and 4) export. There’s also archiving, which some people lump into export and some classify as a fifth stage.
In order to separate system and scratch volumes for better organization and performance, most professionals keep their “live” work drives as external solutions, preferably on a high-speed connection. Thunderbolt connectivity is increasingly popular, although photographers will generally not need the same degree of high-speed throughout as video pros.
The “live” drive includes a backup of the earlier capture data as well as any subsequent versions that get saved during editing. Best practices for this solution should be some form of multi-drive RAID, such as the G-RAID 2.
G-RAID 2 is a high-performance, dual-drive storage featuring Ultrastar Enterprise-class Hard Drives Inside for all your demanding workloads and mission-critical content. With Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, you can experience a high-speed data transfer even if it’s HD photos or 4K footage saving you time to create more. It is also built with a premium, anodized aluminum enclosure which gives a durable strength you can feel and can match your high-end computer.
The details of export and archiving are extensive and may largely depend on how clients wish to receive and/or access your files. Increasingly, backup to cloud storage services is becoming a popular tertiary storage option. Restoring from the cloud can be slow, but it’s still better than having all of your backups destroyed by a natural disaster. Yet another option might be to use something like the G-RAID with removable drives for convenient archiving and removal of drives so that they can be stored many miles away.
Professional photographers and filmmakers in the early stages of their careers are often inclined to have one storage solution serve repeated duty across several of these workflow stages. Yes, money is often tight, especially at the beginning, but investing in a solid backup strategy should be a top-level priority. It’s about more than saving your files and thinking ahead of time as a backup solution is essential in this type of field. It may just save your career too.
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